Summerland swimmers excel at provincial level

ORCA swimmers bring home nine medals, 14 top 10 finishes, and 40 personal best times

It was a rare cold snowy weekend on the coast, but inside the Vancouver Aquatic Centre but the swimming was anything but cold.

Six Summerland Orca athletes qualified for the Swim BC Age Group Provincial Championships Feb. 22 to 24, and returned with nine medals, 14 top 10 finishes, and 40 personal best times.

The Summerland swimmers were Payton Mitchell; 10; Taryn Weatherhead, 10), Gordon Widdis, 11; Dezi Ducheck, 11; Casey McDermid, 12 and Emily Jell, 12.

Weatherhead led the charge winning three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze in the female 10 and under category as teammate Dezi Ducheck added one gold and one silver for the male 11 and under category.

Weatherhead dominated the marquee 100m Freestyle event from the outside lane winning in a time of 1:09.38 over a full second in front of the silver medallist.

RELATED: Summerland swimmers place high at provincials

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Meanwhile, Ducheck had to come from behind for his gold medal in the 100m Butterfly, passing his competitors with less than 10m to the finish, posting a time of 1:12.70, just a few tenths faster than the second-place finisher.

Both times were under club records.

“The Swim BC Provincials are the highest level of competition for these young athletes,” said head coach Delano Ducheck, “and B.C. is one of the toughest swim provinces in Canada. I can guarantee there is a future Olympic swimmer who took part in the competition, probably several, the question is who will take all these racing experiences and build off them in the next decade to 15 years.”

With 39 teams and more than 450 pre-teen athletes, the Swim BC Provincials saw several provincial and national records attained.

Summerland swimmers did not earn any provincial or national records but four athletes broke a combined 16 club records.

At provincial and national level competitions, the Summerland team joins forces with Kelowna Aquajets to form a high-performance team called Kelowna Westside Integrated Club.

The opportunity allows the athletes to be part of a bigger organization for training and competition purposes, and many friendships also blossom along the way.

One of these fusions was the K.W.I.C. 11 and under relay team, who brought home a silver medal in the 4×50 Freestyle event.

The team consisted of two Kelowna and two Summerland members: Dezi Ducheck, Gordon Widdis, Scott Watson and Aiden Kirk.

In an exciting race, Kirk from the K.W.I.C. team came from 10m behind to almost win the event in the last few meters.

The K.W.I.C. team finished seventh overall in the team standings and topped the Okanagan region with their performances.

“To have so many fast and young swimmers coming out from our little community pool is quite remarkable,” said Ducheck, “I’m proud of all of them. They are true competitors.”

With more than 100 competitive and learn-to-swim athletes in ORCA, Summerland swimmers have more meets to look forward to, including the 13 and over provincials in Kamloops March 7 to 10 and the Summerland Jamboree on Sunday, March 10.

The Summerland Jamboree will be first Orca hosted swim meet of any level in over ten years and will feature entry level swimmers competing in all four Olympic strokes. There will be teams from the Okanagan and Kootenay taking part on March 10 between 1 and 4 p.m.

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